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  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    With his family around him, presidential candidate Rick Santorum greets his supporters Tuesday evening, January 10, 2012, at the Derryfield Restaurant following the New Hampshire Primary Election.


  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    With his wife, Karen at his side, presidential candidate Rick Santorum greets his supporters Tuesday evening, January 10, 2012, at the Derryfield Restaurant following the New Hampshire Primary Election.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Santorum in a new neck and neck race -- this time for fourth

MANCHESTER – The shooting star that was Rick Santorum came back to earth after Tuesday’s primary.

Coming off a neck-and-neck finish with GOP front-runner Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses, Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator admitted that New Hampshire was “a little tougher” for him.

“We came up here just about 10 days ago, the polls were having us about 1 or 2 percent,” said Santorum, at his New Hampshire primary party at the Derryfield of Manchester. “After Iowa, the most recent poll was 3 percent. We have, depending on your math, either five times, 10 times, or three times where we started, and that’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to respect the process here. We wanted to respect the fact that we were going to campaign in every single state, states that were good for us and states that may have been a little tougher.”

While results were still coming in Tuesday, Santorum found himself in another neck and neck race. This time for fourth place.

Santorum and former Speaker Newt Gingrich each were hovering around the 10 percent mark with just hundreds of votes separating the two.

At his election party, the sweater vest-selling senator thanked attendees for the support they showed him throughout his campaign.

“We have a campaign that has a message and a messenger that can deliver what we need, which is first and foremost, to defeat Barack Obama,” Santorum said to cheers.

Faced with competitors spending a lot of time and a lot of money on their campaigns in the Granite State, Santorum said he still managed to get his message on “faith and family as the bedrock of our society” to voters across the country.

Perhaps his most important message, however, was his enthusiastic announcement “On to South Carolina!” at the end of his speech.

Santorum’s campaign confirmed the candidate was dumping $1 million on the air in South Carolina after going dark on NH TV even after nearly winning the Iowa caucus.

“We have an opportunity to be the true conservative in this race, and we can win this race,’’ Santorum said.

Voters, who nibbled on cheese and cracker platters as the results came in, had no doubt their candidate was still in the race, despite his lackluster finish.

“I’ve been supporting him the whole time,” Michael Prescott, 24, of Manchester, said. “He definitely caught my eye before Iowa. I’ve been watching him as I have all the candidates, but he stood out the most to me as one that held the same beliefs that I do, socially and economically. I think across the board he’s very conservative.”

With his campaign headed to a bigger conservative target than New Hampshire, attendees said he has plenty of time to build momentum.

“I’m still positive,” Prescott said. “I’m a little disappointed; I wish he’d done better but I think he’s going to do good down in South Carolina.”

Santorum, too, said he would continue to serve the strong right side of the Republican Party.

“We are going to go on to South Carolina,” Santorum said. “For those who would like to think that somehow or another, this race can be over with one or two states, states that have been, well, let’s say have been, the backyard and the home of a certain candidate, and who by the way, I want to absolutely congratulate Mitt Romney for a great victory tonight. He worked hard in this thing, he invested in this state and the people of New Hampshire gave him a very hard-earned victory.”

“We have an opportunity in this race to be the true conservative, the true conservative who can go out and to do what’s necessary to win this race, and we can win this race,” Santorum said.

For some New Hampshire voters, it was Santorum’s conservativism that turned them off when they went to the polls, they said.

“I’m from Pennsylvania but he’s not my cup of tea,” Shank said. “I don’t have any problem with gay rights, gay marriage. I certainly believe in the family, but just not his extreme view.”

Dave Fontaine of Bedford said he considered Santorum, but found him “a little too conservative.”

“I don’t feel that I can trust what (Santorum says),” said Sandy Dehner of Nashua, coming out of the Ward 8 polls at Bicentennial Elementary School. “He’s too extreme for me. What he says about gay marriage, I feel everybody should have a choice. I feel like we’re going back to Puritanism and intolerance.”

Others maintained Santorum to be the best representative of Republican values.

“Any of these guys here would be better than Obama but I really like Rick Santorum,” Susan Hamel, of Bedford said, holding a campaign sign outside Bedford High School. “I like his values–pro-life, marriage between a man and a woman. … I always liked him every time I saw him in the debates and I thought, ‘Man, I wish this guy was polling better.’”

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6940 or mgill@nashuatelegraph.com. Follow Gill on Twitter (@Telegraph_MAG).